Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh Schools Approve Partnership with Wilkinsburg

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Pittsburgh Schools Approve Partnership with Wilkinsburg

Article excerpt

Pittsburgh Public Schools have joined the Wilkinsburg School District in agreeing to a six-year partnership that will send some of the smaller community's students to a big city school.

While the boards of both now have approved a letter of intent that outlines 18 terms of agreement in the partnership, the path to approval in each district played out differently.

On Tuesday, the Wilkinsburg board unanimously approved the letter of intent.

In Pittsburgh, board directors debated for more than an hour Wednesday night over various terms within the agreement, including the tuition rate and Wilkinsburg student access to magnet programs during the first year of the agreement.

The board finally approved the letter in a 7-2 vote. Members Sherry Hazuda and Cynthia Falls dissented, citing concerns over the tuition rate and cost of attendance for Wilkinsburg students who will go to Pittsburgh Westinghouse 6-12.

"While I sympathize with the challenges being faced by the Wilkinsburg School District, I have a responsibility to the taxpayers and families of the city of Pittsburgh," Ms. Hazuda said after Wednesday's meeting.

Board director Mark Brentley compared the lack of access Wilkinsburg students would have to Pittsburgh magnet schools in the first year of the agreement to a "quarantine." Wilkinsburg students should be eligible to apply to Pittsburgh magnets with the same requirements and consideration as resident students immediately, he said.

Mr. Brentley made a motion during Wednesday's meeting for students to have full access to Pittsburgh magnets for the upcoming school year, which would be the first year of the agreement. The motion failed.

"It's like we want to make sure they don't get an even chance to compete, that if we leave them there, maybe they'll forget about the other opportunities available to them and just get comfortable at Westinghouse," he said before Wednesday's meeting. "Time is of the essence for these kids. …

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